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Kate's 2012: the "Best Of" List

Monday, December 31, 2012

It's that time again. Time to look back just once more, before we look forward to a whole new year. We have quite a year to remember, and I have chosen my favorite royal moments of 2012 to wrap up this year. (I will link to each post if you want to reminisce in a little more depth.) I am endlessly amused that more than one of my favorite looks made Huffington Post's worst Kate looks. I know that says something about one party or the other... :)  Let's get started, we have lots to recall.

January: the year got off to a bang when Kate wore a stunning floor-length Alexander McQueen to the premiere of War Horse. She was sensational in the lace dress with her hair and make-up complementing perfectly. 

As long-time readers know, some of my favorite Kate moments are the private and relaxed ones, the quiet and bucolic, so it should not be a surprise that this next set hits the best of 2012. William and Kate were spending most of the early part of this year at their home in Wales and these beach pictures may be my favorite candid shots of them ever. Her Le Chameau boots and cozy British jacket are perfect inspiration for chilly walks, but most of all I love this because they are... in love. Walking with their little dog, enjoying each other's company, the beauty of the rugged Anglesey landscape... Happy and quiet in love... I strongly suggest you check out the post from January to enjoy the rest of these photos.

In February, with William away on a 6 week tour in the Falklands, Kate flew solo for the first time when she visited the National Portrait Gallery.  This time it is the now defunct Jesiré dress that hits the list for its graceful and feminine collar and figure flattering full skirt. Kate looks slim and lovely, and warm and cozy, on this chilly night out in London.  It also receives bonus props for the awesome belt. A belt can make or break some outfits, as we will see later in this list... 

Kate hit another successful note when she wore brown to a primary school in Oxford. Adoring and adorable little children lined the route for her walkabout as the charismatic princess greeted her little well wishers in an Orla Kiely coat dress, brown stockings, and Aquatalia boots. I loved the color scheme and the short boots with the dress, as well as the cut and the way it fell. This look certainly deserves its place in the Best of 2012. 

March roared in a like lion, but Kate caused a storm of her own when she stepped off the train in Leicester with the Queen and the DoE in a deep teal suit from LK Bennett and a structured beret. The suit was lightly vintage, figure flattering, and a whole lot of va va voom. She sent a stampede of women descending on LK Bennett and both the dress and peplum jacket sold out in no time. Certainly a good omen to kick off the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

It was a big year for Britain, and as London geared up for the Olympic Games, Kate made an impromptu visit to Olympic Park. Honorable mention must go to this great shot of Kate on the hockey field as she playfully scrimmaged with some of the athletes. 

On St. Patrick's Day, Kate was the guest of honor when she presented traditional shamrocks to members of the Irish Guards. This forest green Emilia Wickstead hits the Best of 2012 from the perfect shade of green, to the flattering cut and tasteful detailing. Kate with her usual sense of style, paired it with a rich brown hat and matching pumps. She checked every box, it was spot on and even made the nightly news in my home town. 

William returned from the Falklands in mid/late March, and by April the two were holidaying with her family in France. This hits the Best of 2012 because I love Kate's sporty choices. Plus, it is always fun to see them ski.  After all, with much of the rest of the world, I watched William and Kate's relationship confirmed on the ski slopes almost ten years ago. Kate looked great, so take notes if you are planning a little spring vacation of your own somewhere cold.

Kate accompanied William to the Imperial War Museum in an Amanda Wakeley sheath dress which easily makes the Best of 2012 list. Kate swept her hair back perfectly and added a belt to this dress to make it a smash hit. 

May came and with the spring weather Kate got out and spent some time with the scouts. These photos make the list for their fashion as well as their lovely serenity. One cannot always be in couture, but should nevertheless look fabulous. Kate seems to always make that happen. 

May also saw what might have been the fashion highlight of the year; this will stick in people's minds for years to come. The shots of Kate in her Jenny Packham dress at a gala for the Olympics and Paralympics still take my breath away.  The dress is unbelievably beautiful. A true work of art in terms of detail; the fabric has a floating, flowing quality that seems endless; Kate's intricately braided hair was so sophisticated  and her make-up was flawless. Those dark smokey eyes paired with her glowing complexion matched the dress's dazzle.

The anticipation was high for Kate to attend one of the Queen's garden parties at Buckingham Palace, which she did in late May. Her soft pink Emilia Wickstead dress was the perfect flavor for tea in the garden and contrasted very well with the green of the lawn. I do not joke, I liked that part.  The hat also contributed a significant amount to the overall effect.  Perhaps the most detailed hat she has worn, it matched the color of the dress and added just the pizzazz needed. 

By June, Diamond Jubilee celebrations were in full swing, and with the Trooping and the Order of the Garter, it was a month packed with official engagements. The Thames River Pageant to honor the Queen was historically awesome, and although the red McQueen that Kate wore for that event does not make this list--as admirable as many of its qualities are--this stunning photo of a day that will make the history books must be seen again.

Another McQueen does make the list. Kate closed that very special weekend with an exquisite lace dress for the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's, the carriage ride, and the balcony appearance.  Obviously, a very formal occasion and one that could make the list both for its sartorial merits as well as the gravitas of the day. 

Just to keep you on your toes, we give a nod to another family moment as Kate watched William play polo at the Beaufort Polo Club. Lupo got to come along, of course.

Take a deep breath, we are only halfway through the year and I have been pretty ruthless in culling. William and Kate were attending the wedding of friends in July when Kate wore this Beulah dress. It should certainly see a recycle in a more official capacity where we can get a better look. It makes the list as a sleeper fashion hit. 

This next dress didn't get a ton of attention at the time. The schedule was packed and I was busy half a world away from home with low access to internet, but it stuck with me and I love it still. It is a simple dress in a loud shade, which is a good combo if you plan to go bold without overdoing it. Kate wore this striking electric blue Stella McCartney to the National Portrait Gallery (She does go there quite a bit) with an almost $76,000 necklace! Hard not to impress. Great hair day, sunshine with the blue dress, everything clicked.

We first saw this Roksanda Ilincic in 2011 on tour, but fair is fair. She wore it in 2012 as well, and it is eligible for consideration.  It probably gets into this list not just on its own merits, but on Kate's great hair and the angle of some of these shots. It is a beautiful dress, and Kate looked a hundred bucks.

William and Kate attended many different Olympic events, but the moment that makes this Best of '12 list was early August when Britain won gold at a cycling event.  The overjoyed princess threw her arms around William for a quick hug and the spontaneous moment was caught on camera and beamed around the world. I think it captured the joy and excitement of the Olympic Games as well as the Jubilee Year.

All was fairly quiet after the Olympics until September when William and Kate embarked on their second overseas tour.  The time difference on this tour made it a nightmare to report on, but the tropical locale brought out some wonderful moments and beautiful shots.  I loved many of the dresses on this tour, but will only highlight a few. William and Kate visited a military cemetery, which is particularly emotional when overseas.  The beauty of the scene lends a special touch to these photos, and may be the reason this airy Jenny Packham beat out other worthy contenders. 

As the whole world is painfully aware, the tour was marred by the topless photo scandal, the first and worst scandal Kate has faced in the many years she has been in the public glare. To say she handled it like a princess, is an understatement. The dress she wore to face the world after news broke was beautiful in its own right, and would have made the list either way, but the general mood, and her obvious brave face, in addition to the comparisons to Diana, will make this an iconic dress in years to come. 

Later, on the same unpleasant day, Kate changed into a pastel Alice Temperley for tea with Jimmy Choo. By the time that event had concluded, the strain of keeping up a brave face was obviously showing. Kate continued to put forward a good show, but William was in an absolutely foul mood. Drama makes for headlines and history, and these photos of the angry prince, as his wife attempts to calm him, will be keepers.  This is another post I suggest you pop over to, just to see the whole photo set. Back to the fashion, the dress is just to my taste, and it was one of my favorites of the tour.

This Jonathan Saunders makes the cut for its bold patterns and bright colors, as well as the unusual topper she paired with it.  I really liked it, and it was one of the few more structured dresses on this tour.  Geometric patterns are very on trend this spring, so she was ahead of the curve. William and Kate were pushing through the earlier unpleasantness well, and the mood had brightened. 

Kate's light yellow dress has to make the list, both for its intrinsic loveliness  but also because she designed it herself and had it made by the Queen's tailors. Pretty nifty.

William and Kate went dark for a bit after the tour, for fairly obvious reasons. You would need a rest after so much travel under the best of circumstances, but that tour was brutal.  The green Reiss coat and black Aquatalias that Kate wore to the football training center make up the only outfit in October to hit this list. She was classically Kate Middleton. 

Kate wore MaxMara to Cambridge in November with some animal print peaking out. I love animal print--in moderation!-- so this gets to make the list. Pink and brown go well together, and there wasn't that much in November, frankly. We will chalk it up to the couple's first visit to the city of Cambridge, and high time for that visit, too.

Legitimately making the list is the beautiful McQueen tartan dress that Kate wore to visit her old school, St. Andrew's.  The dress has all the intricacies you expect from McQueen, and all the thoughtfulness of place and association you expect from Kate. The dress's pattern nicely complimented the school uniform, and Kate even got out on the field to play some hockey.  What we did not know was that the smiling Duchess had a secret, which she was about to abruptly share with the whole world in a manner nobody anticipated. 

Kate's pregnancy was announced after that very weekend, on December 3rd, when she was hospitalized with dehydration due to her severe morning sickness. When she was released from Edward VII several days later, she looked frail , but in every other respect fabulous.  Her hair was perfectly coiffed and her DVF coat could not have been cuter. I loved it all, and the bright, cheerful roses she received inside were the perfect splash of color. 

That wraps up my Best of 2012. Congrats. If you just read this entire post, you are a major Kate Middleton fan. It has been an incredible royal year, and certainly ended on a high note. I hope you all stay safe this New Year's Eve and I look forward to spending another year of royal watching with you in 2013!  

Thank you for reading--I wouldn't blog if people didn't drop by...

Happy New Year!